A group of 11 male and female students with a male faculty member pose for a photo in front of the Gator Ubiquity Statue
The Heavener International Case Team and faculty advisor Sean Limon (top row, far right) used their case skills to assist the Armenian state university system in building its first case competition and team.

Case Connections: How the Heavener International Case team helped Armenia’s university system build a nationwide case program

In August, Sean Limon received a curious message from an employee at the United States Department of State. He had been personally requested by the University System of Armenia to help with a new project.

Luckily for Limon, Oral Communications Coordinator in Warrington’s Management Communication Center, the request was one he was well equipped to handle as the faculty leader of the Heavener International Case team – help the Eastern European country start a case program in their nationwide college system.

“At first I thought it was a scam,” Limon joked. “When I received a second email from the contact person at the State Department, I cross referenced her name with LinkedIn and sure enough, she worked for the State Department. After speaking with her, it was clearly an opportunity for me and the Heavener International Case Competition team to help with something we are very passionate about, and I felt honored to be asked to help an entire country’s university system with starting a case program.”

 Over the course of a few weeks, Limon and the students of the Heavener International Case team worked one-on-one with the Armenian universities’ faculty members and student participants to help them learn the ins-and-outs of case presentations.  

Limon first met with the various faculty members who would be coaches to give them coaching best practices and, in a second meeting, with student participants to give them an overview of how to complete a successful case. For the third meeting, Limon and the Heavener International Case team provided fifteen teams with a case, selected three teams to present in front of all teams and coaches, and provided the presenting teams with feedback for all to hear and learn from.  

“When we heard about the opportunity to help Armenia develop their case team, all of us were eager to volunteer!” said Heavener International Case team member Shreya Dundigalla (BSBA ’21, BS ‘21, MS-ISOM ’22). “At case competitions, the problems we solve, the strategies we recommend, and the impact we have on real business is invaluable.”

The mock case was for leading consumer-packaged goods company P&G. Specifically, the students were asked to focus on P&G’s baby care business, which has seen a decline from a decrease in birth rates and lack of customer loyalty, explained Heavener International Case team member Brooke Lynch (BSBA ‘22, MIB ‘22).

“This case asked the Armenian students to capture the younger Millennial mom consumer base while also figuring out a way to include retailers in their strategy to match P&G’s business-to-business structure,” said Lynch. “Overall, this case challenged the students to be creative and innovative with their ideas to help P&G outperform the rest of the declining market.”

In the first part of the case competition, three Armenian teams presented the assigned case and a group of the Heavener International Case team served as judges. Following that, four members of the Heavener International Case team, who had not served as judges, presented the same case as an example of what a stellar case delivery, presentation and slide deck entails.

Heavener International Case team member Claire Patterson, who served as a judge for the Armenian students’ presentations, noted the Armenian students put forth great effort and most of the judges’ feedback was focused on delivery, messaging and slide formatting.

“Successful case competitors are confident and believe in the solution they propose wholeheartedly, so we advised the teams to work on refining their body language, using meaningful hand gestures and incorporating persuasive storytelling techniques to convince the judges that their idea is superior,” said Patterson (BABA ’21, MIB ’22). “We also offered recommendations on how to build organized, visually appealing PowerPoint slides that provide a strong foundation for their verbal explanations. We’re all excited to see how the teams improve!”

While the team was excited to assist the Armenian students, they learned several lessons of their own.  

For Isabella Montoya-Bedoya (BSBA ’22), coaching the Armenian students was a once in a lifetime opportunity that helped her hone her own skills.

“It was an honor to share our passion for casing with the Armenian case team and it was evident that they were very excited to learn from our competition experience,” she said. “As a strategist on the Heavener International team, watching the case presentations allowed me to analyze how other students approached the case problem from a global perspective.”

Lynch was able to combine her passion for mentorship with her interest in case competitions.

“This opportunity allowed me to combine both of these interests while making a real impact on students across the globe,” she said. “You could see how proud they were of their work and how much they appreciated our feedback and examples that we shared for reference. Being able to share our love for the case team while encouraging international students to challenge themselves to continuously improve is truly a once in a lifetime experience that both myself and my teammates are extremely grateful for.”

The experience made Dundigalla note the importance of having a global mindset and a strong support system.

“It was fascinating to see the new perspectives the Armenian teams presented,” she said. “As a strategist on the team, it’s crucial to be open-minded and willing to think outside the box for innovative solutions. Additionally, having the right guidance and support can make a significant difference.”

Patterson noted the experience was a good reminder of why she wanted to participate with the Heavener International Case team in the first place – build global connections.

“Mentoring the Armenian teams reinforced the core goal of these competitions – to foster global collaboration and spark meaningful relationships between nations,” she said. “Even though the pandemic has slowed down our ability to collect new passport stamps, there are still opportunities to engage with different cultures and develop our global mindsets.”

The Heavener students and Limon will have the opportunity to see the Armenian teams’ progression at the next Heavener International Case Competition, as Limon invited them to participate in the 2022 competition.